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Crime and the investigation of suspicious deaths is a popular topic with crime novels, films, and television drama regularly focusing on the ‘who done it’ aspect of death.
In contrast, real world death investigation takes place continuously at many levels in the community and for a range of purposes. Whilst in the past criminal issues were uppermost in the minds of the investigating coroner, today the focus of the coroner’s jurisdiction has changed. Death and injury prevention have become increasingly important, with many coroners making recommendations that have a direct implication for public health and safety. These changes in focus have lead to a restructuring of the process of death investigation.
The Coroner now has to manage a team of specialist scientific and medical investigators from a wide variety of disciplines. In addition, the human side of coronial investigation has developed enormously with coroners becoming involved in providing bereavement support for families and friends of the deceased. These changes have brought new challenges for coroner investigators and the community.